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comethi Of those who formerly lived upon the earth, and perhaps made the most conspicuous figure among the children of men, how many have there been, whose names are perished with them, and how many of whom nothing but their names are remaining? Thus are we passing away, and thus shall we shortly be forgotten. Happy, if while we are forgotten of men, we are remembered by God, and our names are found written in the book of life!"
3. When compared with eternity, our lives dwindle to a point. Those who entered upon eternity several thousand years ago, are but now upon the borders of endless duration; and when thousands and millions of ages are gone, they will be exactly in the same situation. What a great subject for the little mind of man to contemplate! Endless duration confounds our thought. We may look at it till, like a man who looks down a tremendous
precipice, we turn giddy. If we stretch our thought as far as it can reach, eternity is before us still. If this globe, on which we live, were composed of small grains of sand, one of which should be removed every million of ages, the period would arrive when the last grain would be taken away; but even then eternity would be but just beginning! What, then, is mortal
life? What are threescore years and ten? How soon they are gone! They are lost in this vast comparison. No wonder that the inspired writers, who were in the habit of contemplating endless duration, should compare this fleeting life to things of the shortest continuance. “Behold, thou hast made my days as an hand-breadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee.” This is a subject which every man should deeply ponder in his heart, that he may learn those lessons of wisdom which are necessary for him as the creature of a day.
II. IF WE EXCEED THAT PERIOD, IT IS LABOUR AND SORROW.
Most men desire old age ; but few reflect upon the labour and sorrow of the aged. Let us venture to look at this gloomy subject: perhaps it may check our youthful vanity, and lead us to a serious, sober conduct.
1. The aged have lost the vigour and strength of youth. “ The grasshopper is a burden.” They can scarcely move from place to place; and a little exertion out of the common way quite overcomes them, In youth, a long journey and laborious exercise was deemed nothing ; but now
they are afraid of that which is high.” Every little rising ground is an object of fear, because it requires a painful exertion
of their feeble powers. They lean upon a staff, and are glad to rest their weary limbs.
2. Their intellects and senses are decayed ; so that they neither understand nor relish life as they formerly did. They are dull of apprehension; their memory is weak; their sight is dim; their ears are heavy ; their food is not sweet to the taste ; their sleep is not refreshing; and, in short, both body and mind are in a state of ruin.
3. The friends and companions of their youth, who often sweetened the bitter cup of life, are gone into an awful eternity; and they feel but little inclination to form new friendships, as they neither love others, nor are beloved themselves, as in the days of youth. The idea of out-living our dearest friends, so as to become solitary in the midst of society, is very distressing; and it would be completely insupportable to the aged, if they were susceptible of those fine feelings of friendship which they felt in former years. Blunted as these feelings are, this no doubt is a source of considerable sorrow. We often hear them praise the dead whom they loved, and when this is the subject of conversation, we are pained with their sighs and groans.
4. Their death is sometimes desired, even by those whom they had loved and served for a long succession of years. Are they
rich? Their death is desired on that account. Children and heirs, longing for their wealth, wish to see their heads laid low. Are they poor? Their death is desired on account of the trouble which they give, and the support which they receive In either case, they are too frequently in the way of the young. This mụst cause them many a bitter reflection. It is a source of sorrow which they never experienced before, and which they scarcely know how to bear.
5. Their prospects in the world are nearly closed. In youth their prospects were continually rising, and almost every day pro: duced new hopes; but having attained the full age of man, they have but little hope of any thing below the sun. They have þeen on the mountain top of life, where they had extensive and delightfùl pros pects; but now, they are in a deep vale, where they must sink into the cold arms of death, and make the grave their bed, Death ștares them full in the face, and a vast eternity is in view.
6. We may add, that too many at this awful period, ure totally unprepured for 4 better world. Their sins are unrepented of, and unforgiven; their hearts are hard; their tempers sour, peevish, and fretful; and they are a perpetual plague both to themselves and to all with whom they
have to do. Blessed be God, there are a few whose situation is quite the reverse. Their sins are pardoned ; their souls are cleansed; they sweetly resign themselves to the will of God, and look forward with pleasing hope to a better life. Happy is he, who in these days of sorrow, can say with the Psalmist, “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.'
Most men complain of the shortness of life; but few improve it as it flies. Short as it is, it is long enough for every necessary purpose.
Good men should rejoice that it is no longer. Heaven is their home, and they will soon be there. If wicked men were to live longer, they might do more mischief, increase their guilt, and add to the punishments which await them in a future state.
To conclude : Let us be up and doing. “ Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Learn to set a great value upon time. Improve every moment as it flies, to the best of
purposes. Indulge no wish for long life; but leave it all to God. Let thy great care be to live well, and then thou wilt die well.